Protecting David-Finding Christopher 8
It was almost three o’clock before Larry called me and told me that he was finally out of meetings.
“Sorry, Babe that I’m just getting back to you but this guy brought along a team of advisers and all of them wanted to put in their two cents. If you’re still at the office did you take Chris home?”
“Larry……they wouldn’t let us take Chris.”
His voice got hard. “What are you talking about?”
I sighed, not wanting to put him through this not even wanting the words to be coming out of my mouth. “This bitch from Family Services showed up and said that because of our lifestyle that they were putting Chris with what she called a Christian home. I’ve got Stanner working on getting him back.”
Larry exploded and I could hear him banging around his office and cursing. “Lifestyle! Whadda they fucking mean, lifestyle? Those fuckers! I’ll fucking kill em! What are their names, Alex? I’m calling over there! We’re not putting up with this shit!” I let him rant for a while until he began to simmer down.
“Larry, don’t do that. I’ve got half the fucking legal world already working on this. You and I can talk tonight and decide what else we’re going to do.”
“Alex, he can’t take this! You know he can’t! He can’t go back to that shit! You saw him, he’s like hanging on by his fingernails!”
“I know, Babe and I’ve got Mr. Tam working on it too. We’ll get him back but it’s gonna take some time. But it won’t be what he was in before, Lar, this’ll be with normal people. They won’t hurt him.” I hoped that I was telling the truth.
“We gotta do more, Alex! There’s gotta be something.”
Shortly after talking to Larry I drove home and found two Mercedes sedans parked in front of our house one dark blue and a slightly larger one in a dark silver. A guy in a navy-blue suit was leaning against the dark blue one smoking a cigarette and there was another, younger man sitting inside of it. The older guy was about forty with dark blond hair and bright blue eyes. As I walked towards him he ground out his cigarette with his toe and extended his hand. Mei was walking around trying to look like she wasn’t watching every move he made. I wondered if she already knew about Chris. In a way I hoped so because I sure didn’t want to have to tell her.
“Mr. Chauvet-Kerry? Mike Stone, I’m with Mercedes Benz, their sales rep for the area.” We shook hands and then I shoved mine into my pockets.
I grinned at him. “Don’t tell me you deliver all the cars.”
He laughed. “Nope, only the ones for special customers.”
I was genuinely surprised. “You mean I’m a special customer?”
“We’re hoping that you become one, a very happy one.”
“Well if the car is as good as the service I’d say it won’t be a problem.”
“They really are great cars, the best on the planet. Well, let me show you all the stuff you’re gonna love about this car.” Mike spent the next hour going over every aspect of how the car was built and how it worked and that was probably a good thing because there was a lot there that was new to me.
Finally he asked me to sign for the car and said, “I don’t know who you know in the company but I sure hope that you’ll be satisfied with the car and that you’ll tell them. It’s pretty rare for them to give a hundred and fifty thousand dollar car away.”
I laughed and said, “Give away?”
He pointed at the sales contract that showed the value of the car but zero due. He grinned at me. “We got a call from Stuttgart. Said that under no circumstances, were you to be charged.”
I was dumbfounded. “I dunno who it could have been. I know a couple of people in Germany but they’re not with Mercedes. Mostly I know Jon Suhrbier but he’s with the Zander Gruppe.”
Mike said, “Hang on a minute and he walked to the blue car and came back with what looked like a magazine but turned out to be an annual report.”
“How do you spell that name?” I spelled it for him as he leafed thru the booklet.
Then he said, “Here it is.” He turned the report so that I could read it. “He’s a director. All of those German execs are on each others boards.” He laughed. “Well, I guess that’s kinda like here. Did you realize that he had that much clout?”
I shook my head slowly, mulling over the implications, “No, I guess that I never really thought about it.” But I was thinking about it now.
When Mike left Mei came over and looked at the car and then made a call on her cell phone. She spoke rapidly in Chinese and afterwards said to me, “We check for listening or tracking device, of course.” She shook her head. “Not find but make sure.”
I decided to get it over with. “You heard about Christopher?”
She nodded. “Mr. Tam call me.” She tended to refer to him like he wasn’t related to her. “Good thing call him, he know wha to do.”
“Does he know where Christopher has been takin? What their names are?”
She shook her head. “Say they know by morning. Bribe tonight, know by morning.”
“When they find out, Mei, I want them to watch Chris all the time and make sure that he’s safe.”
She looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course we make him safe! I like to get that whore from guffermen place and cut out her tongue for saying Chrisofer mus go way! Wha kine guffermen takes little boy from his house? Not wery good you ask me! She shoul be down by docks like worthless whore she is not bovering upstaning citizen and little boys!”
“We’ll get him back, Mei.” I said softly.
She sighed. “I know. It jus ba for him.” She turned to leave and then turned back and looked at me with determination. “Some day I meet his sisser when you na stop me and I make her unnerstan wha she did.”
The rep from Mercedes made me wonder how much additional clout some of our European friends might have beyond free cars. It was really late in Austria but I knew that Gerhardt was an insomniac who would go to his office at home and work when he couldn’t sleep. I called the number of the phone in his office and it was picked up on the second ring.
Gerhardt laughed. “Alex, don’t tell me that you can’t sleep either! You are far too young for that problem.”
I laughed and said, “It’s too early here for bed. Did you know that Jon was going to arrange for me to get a free car?”
“Then you got it!” He sighed. “Jon was so happy that he had the opportunity to do that! He called me twice! I told him that you could afford to buy your own car but, of course, that wasn’t the point. He likes you very much you know. And he, like me, wishes you were closer.”
“I like him too, although it’s hard to picture him as a hard charging CEO, he’s so grandfatherly.”
Gerhardt laughed. “Believe it, Alex. Under that domesticated exterior beats the heart of a true wolf, as many a businessman has found out the hard way. He thinks of you as one of his children and pulls in his fangs with you but don’t let that fool you. And don’t tell me you hate being thought of that way, it’s one of the few things people your age must endure from us old men.”
“I really don’t mind it, Gerhardt. And the truth is that right now I could use a little help.” I spent the next fifteen minutes telling him every single thing that happened with Chris.
Then he said, “You’re sure that you want to adopt the boy? There could be many problems.”
“Yes, Gerhardt, I am.”
He was quiet for a moment. “That could be a very good thing for everyone. He’s a smart lad?”
“I believe he is.”
Gerhardt almost seemed to be thinking out loud when he said, “I can get him German citizenship…I’m quite certain.”
“Gerhardt, in a sense, that car that Jon arranged for is what triggered this call. I got to thinking that even from Germany Jon had the power to influence things in Denver and I wondered if either of you might be able to help with Christopher.”
“Alex, have you talked to David yet?”
“No, that’s my next call, to bring them up to date and they may be able to help. It’s just that my attorney, who is considered the best, cautions us to wait. I don’t know, I guess I just wanted the opinion of someone outside of the situation. The idea of waiting upsets me. I want to get Christopher into a stable home as soon as possible.”
“It sounds to me that this may call for subtle pressure. Let me talk to Jon tomorrow and see if there is something we can do that won’t make things worse but will make it clear to the governor that he’s being held, if only somewhat, to account. It may be to no affect, such power as we have, is here but if it’s done carefully, it can’t hurt.”
David answered his cell phone on the first ring. There was laughter in his voice. “It’s about time you called, ya little shit! Forget you got parents?”
His voice sounded so good. I laughed. “No excuses, Dad, I’m a terrible son.”
His voice got soft. “No you’re not. You’re the best kid in the world and I speak from great impartiality. I just wish we saw you more.”
“Dad, it’s only been a few weeks since I was there.”
“Yeah, I know but more would be better. If you ever have a kid of your own you’ll understand.”
“Ah…well, Dad, that’s kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. Larry and I have kinda met a kid that we want to adopt but there are some problems.”
David was silent for a moment and I began to worry. Then he said, “Alex that would be so great. Tell me about him.”
For the next fifteen minutes David only interrupted briefly when he needed something clarified. Then finally when I ran down he said, “Stanner is certain about what he’s saying?”
“Dad, he sure seems to be.”
“Of course he may be but one of the problems with lawyers is a reluctance to disturb the status quo. I’m going to check into this myself though. I’ve been doing business in Colorado for a long time and I do have some friends there. And the bank gives us some clout too.” David was being modest. My dad’s stake in First Colorado Corporation had grown over the years to twenty-six percent which gave him effective control of the second largest bank in the state.
David said, “Have you thought this through? I mean all of it. Even if you get Chris back it could be that it’s going to take a lot to get him well. Are you sure of how you feel and is Larry sure?”
“We really are sure, Dad. I feel it…it’s like he’s my kid already. I wasn’t prepared for it…this all pretty much came outta the blue but now, yeah I’m sure. Why, do you think it’s a mistake?”
“Not at all, Alex. But it’s something that you need to be sure about. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone if you weren’t. It sounds like the boy needs stability in his life so you don’t want to be changing your mind about this.”
He laughed and said, “But you never were one for changing your mind, so I think we can safely figure that you won’t now either.”
At eight o’clock that night I was still waiting for Larry to get home when the guards down at the gate called up to tell me that Richard, one half of the dynamic duo, was there wanting to see me. By the time I opened the front door he was leaning against the door jamb with a big roll of what looked like plans under his arm and looking exhausted. He was wearing khaki pants with a light blue dress shirt pulled open at the collar, his tie was slung around his neck.
When the door swung open he shoved his shaggy haired dark blond head in, looked around and asked, “Where’s the Warrior Princess?” Mei petrified him.
I grinned. “She said cause it was just you I could handle it myself.”
He pushed off the door jamb. “Very funny, Alex. I been bustin my hump all day trying to solve your problems…you gonna ask me in?”
I stood aside and said, “Sure…where’s Darleen?”
As he walked in he said, “At home figuring out the best way to sue her employer for alienation of my affections. She thinks I love you more than I love her.”
I draped my arm around his shoulders and pulled him to me quickly for a straight guy hug. “She knows I’m hot for you?”
He got a goofy grin on his face. “I think she suspects.” When I was fifteen and Richard had first started working for my Dad he became the guy I always talked to when I went into David’s office.
We walked arm in arm towards my office. Richard said, “I think I may have stumbled on a way to shove it to this Halander dude. At least if you don’t mind spending some money.”
“Well, my boyfriend is still out lawyering so you’ve got my undivided attention.”
Richard spread out a map across my desk and outlined an area roughly with a pencil.
“This is Halander’s new subdivision and it’s gonna make the old one look like crap. It’s owned by the same corporation, Halander Construction. He’s the president and treasurer, his wife is secretary and his daughter’s a vice president. Obviously he believes in keeping it in the family.”
“The total cost of the land was twenty-three million. It took virtually all of his dough but it’s good land, he’ll make a mint…maybe.”
I said, “Maybe?”
“There’s one problem with the land.” Richard hunched over the map again and drew a long ellipse bordering Halanders land to west. “You obviously can’t see it on this map but this is an old garbage dump, a really old one and even though most of it’s been covered over with a thin layer of dirt it still stinks to high heaven. The city comes periodically and threatens all kinds of shit, but then the owner agrees to fix it and they throw some more dirt around and wait for the next time.”
I looked at him. “What’s he gonna do about it?”
He laughed. “Well, he’s pretty sure he’s got a lock on buying it. Actually he’s so sure that he’s been putting off coming up with a down payment and now it doesn’t help that he’s had to lay out all that cash for his land. It’s owned by his grandmother’s best friend. Her name’s Hilda Woodward, a sweet old lady but also right now a confused old lady. For one thing this has gone on for five years. That’s five years where this woman has gone without getting the cash, any cash. Now she’s not hurting, not really but she is worried about her grand kids and her son and daughter are getting pretty fed up with her. Every time she hits Halander up about it he tap dances around and reminds her how much his grandmother thought of her and how much she would have wanted Hilda to sell the land to him.”
“What does she want for it?”
“He’s agreed to pay three million.”
“Richard, this is what I want you to do. Set up a meeting with the woman and make sure that her son and daughter are there too. They’ll turn out to be our biggest allies. Take someone from the bank with you, at least a vice president, someone to vouch for our integrity. Talk to Connie, she’ll make them agree to it without a lotta dicking around. Get with the banks real estate division and have them make up a very simple contract but as air tight as possible. Nothing complicated, nothing to make her nervous. Offer the woman four million for a quick deal and make sure her kids hear that. You probably won’t have to work hard at that, the kids will be all over it. I realize that it’s pushing her and there’s even a chance that afterwards if she thinks about she’ll want to undo it figuring she might get more out of Halander. I can live with that.”
Richard said, “This won’t stop him totally he’ll probably just sue you.”
I laughed. “Cool. I’m up to my ass in lawyers. We can sue each other till the end of time. Meanwhile his subdivision is tied up…as is his cash.”
Richard said, “You know, he’s still gonna be selling houses in the old subdivision.”
I raised an eyebrow. “I know, to me. I was gonna give em away and I still will but not right away. Once I get a signed contract and tie up those properties Stanner and his guys are going to take a lot of time making sure that everything is perfect. Halander’s gonna wait a very long time to see that cash and without it he can’t build more homes. Hell, once we get title to that land I may sue him and claim his land caused the stink to begin with.”
I leaned forward and changed the subject. “Richard when this land business is settled I want you to concentrate on your friend Carlos. Is he anywhere near a decision?” Carlos Demaner had been a college classmate of Richard’s who had, with other school friends started a small biotech company in Boston. Recently they had made serious progress on a drug to combat diabetes.
Richard settled into the chair in front of my desk and yawned hugely. “Ohhh…sorry! Fuck I’m tired.” He shook himself and then said, “He knows that they’ll have to do something, Alex. The trick is getting it through the heads of those other guys. None of em have any business sense, they’re all doctors and scientists…no common sense.”
“Does he realize what it’s gonna cost him to make it through those trials?”
Richard smiled. “He’s beginning to. He told me that he’s figuring twenty mil. I told him he was outta his fucking mind and that he should be thinking eighty.”
“I’d take half of that for myself and the other half for David’s Omega Fund. Richard, I’m thinking you should go to Boston and walk him through it. We can provide accounting and legal power for him…so that he’s got something to show those other guys. I want you to point out to him that anyone else that puts up that money is gonna be sitting behind his desk with him, driving him crazy. We won’t do that….at least not much.” This was my first real chance to make a contribution to David’s company. He was always doing stuff for me, giving me things, lately he had started transferring some of his own ownership in the company.
Richard grinned. “How much is not too much?”
“One board member.” I grinned back at him. “A good job for you or Darleen.”
He groaned and I laughed. He said, “Alex! Gimme a break! I’d be spending all my time in the air.”
“Private jet, Richard, not like standing in line at the United counter. And you get to keep whatever they pay their directors.”
Richard had slumped in the chair and was rubbing his eyes. “I don’t think they even pay em….unless they started. And you don’t have a private jet and your old man isn’t gonna be sending his to fly me to Boston.”
“That whole payment thing can be the first thing you change. They gotta pay their directors. And I been thinking of buying a jet anyway. David’s plane is maxed out and you wouldn’t believe what they pay for a charter. He might as well pay it to me. Besides Boston’s got a Ritz-Carlton. Just imagine yourself in a nice suite, all the best food…take Darleen…be like a second honeymoon.”
Richard buried his face in his hands and then looked at me through his fingers. “I dunno if I’d live through a second honeymoon every few months. Besides, that woman’s insane.” Richard and Darleen fought constantly over business but were devoted to each other outside of the office.
I dropped my feet off of the desk and leaned forward. “Get her pregnant! Then she can stay home and be a mom. Or hell, even work from home! Everything she does now she can do from there.”
Richard got a concerned look on his face and leaned forward. “Did she say anything about this, Alex? I mean, you know….babies?”
I laughed. “Surely you’d know before me.”
He said softly, “We been talking about it. One day she’s all for it and the next she’d never consider it. The thing is that we’re not getting any younger. Anyway, I thought maybe she said something. She’d probably talk to you.” He laughed. “Gay guys are like Switzerland…neutral.”
As Richard was walking out Larry was walking in. It was almost nine o’clock and he looked exhausted. He was ripping his tie off as he walked. He wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on my shoulder.
He mumbled. “I hate lawyers!” He smelled faintly of coffee but mostly just of him. I could feel the stubble of his beard and he could probably feel mine.
I pulled loose and looked into his face. “Want some dinner?”
He grinned at me. “Whatcha got?”
“The best meatloaf on the planet!”
He laughed. “What does that woman do to make meatloaf taste that good?”
I shook my head and then leaned forward and kissed him lightly. “I dunno but when I die I want some buried with me.”
He laughed and taking my hand we walked towards the kitchen. “The only thing gonna be buried with you is me.” He leaned over and kissed the side of my head and said, “So tell me about Chris.” And I did.